New Delhi/ Ranchi, Dec. 26: Jharkhand has missed out on central grants under a plan to set up model degree colleges in 12 backward districts because the state has not fulfilled certain requirements even three years after the scheme was launched.
Neighbours Bihar and Bengal, too, are among 15 laggard states that are not eligible for the central grants under the 2010 plan that is aimed at establishing model colleges with advanced facilities in 374 educationally backward districts across India.
The Centre had identified 12 districts in Jharkhand, 17 in Bengal and 25 in Bihar.
But to be eligible for the money, all the states needed to fulfil certain conditions, including creation of a higher education council, committing to bear 25 per cent of the expenses, academic reforms, filling up faculty vacancies and having a 1:15 teacher-student ratio in state universities.
States are also supposed to provide land free for these degree colleges.
“But many states have not yet fulfilled these prerequisites. So they have not got the grants,” a senior HRD ministry official said.
Apart from Jharkhand and its closest twin neighbours, the others that have missed out on the grants are Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
When contacted, Jharkhand government’s director (higher education) D.N. Ojha said the matter pertained to 2010-11 when he was not at the helm of affairs.
But he accepted that the state missed the bus as far as reaping the benefits of central grants to set up model degree colleges in educationally backward districts went.
State HRD department sources said no proposal could be sent to the Centre in 2010-11 because universities, who had been asked to identify places where proposed colleges were to be opened, apparently did not respond to the query.
But why there was no follow-up to this lack of response is anybody’s guess.
“The irony is that fragile political conditions and the too-frequent changes in bureaucracy at the senior level result in ambitious projects falling into a quagmire of absolute no-show,” said an academic, not willing to be named.
Only in 2013, Jharkhand state HRD department has seen as many as five different principal secretaries — starting from B.K. Tripathy.
He was followed in quick succession by Vinod Agrawal, N.N. Pandey and D.K. Tiwari and finally K. Vidyasagar, the present incumbent.
Ojha, however, tried to hand out a consolation prize. “During the last couple of years, the state government has provided its own funds to the tune of Rs 1-2 crore for setting up five model colleges under Hazaribagh’s Vinoba Bhave University, Dumka-headquartered Sido-Kanhu-Murmu University and Chaibasa-headquartered Kolhan University. However, there were no proposals from Ranchi University and Neelambar-Pitambar University, Palamau,” he said.
On the actual headway made, he said varsities were expected to choose sites in consultation with the respective district administration.
Jharkhand’s idiosyncracies apart, central sources divulged there were other problems in implementation of schemes that were common to all the states.
Sources in the human resource development (HRD) ministry and higher education regulator UGC said when the scheme was launched, the plan was the Centre would foot one-third of the proposed expenditure of Rs 8 crore for a college, while the state concerned would pay the rest.
But the response had been poor. Former UGC secretary R.K. Chauhan explained why, saying that states claimed they were going through a financial crunch.
The Union HRD ministry then decided to fund 75 per cent of the cost.